Workout of the Day

Hurt Your Back? Your Back's Probably Not the Problem


So you’ve hurt your back, and you decide to go to the doctor to have things checked out. Where’s your doctor going to spend her time looking during your visit?

More than likely, at your back.

But this is actually a problem. See, most (not all) doctors will spend their time and energy looking at and addressing symptoms, not problems.

(Side note: I have no intention of passing any value judgments on this trend found in common medical practice -- it’s a product of the “system” as a whole -- the sum of patients and their demands (little effort, quick relief), doctors and their restrictions (time, litigation, scope of expertise), and the industries that influence medical practices (insurance, pharmaceuticals) -- have developed into a symptom-focused, symptom-driven industry. Your doctor isn't evil or incompetent, she's just operating within a limited system.)

Your symptom is your injured back. But here’s where things get interesting: your back is probably not the cause of your problems. Put differently, you didn’t hurt your back because of your back. You hurt it because of your hip, or your ankle, or your neck, or your shoulder. Your back is just the symptom.

I recently heard a perfect analogy for this phenomenon.

Imagine a small factory with four manufacturing employees. Now let’s assume that three of these employees are lazy and don’t contribute much work, so the one hard worker picks up all of the extra slack. Now, who is going to complain to the manager? The hard-working employee. But is he the problem?

In the same way, when you have weak or imbalanced hips, or a stiff shoulder or ankle, something is going to pick up the slack in the system (i.e., do the extra work to allow you to function). In our hypothetical situation, this is your back. And eventually, after being overworked for months because of your weak glutes (or whatever), your back has had enough and files its formal complaint with management (you get hurt).

So if your back (or anything else) is hurt, step away from looking at your back and figure out why your back got hurt in the first place. Do you have an imbalanced or inefficient movement that your repeat frequently? Something you do at work, at home, in the car, etc.? Do you have an old injury, or an apparent imbalance? Do you have a consistent movement fault you’re unaware of? Start there. That’s how you’ll heal the wound instead of just sticking a bandaid on it.

- PS


  • Squat snatch - 1rm


  • Every 2 mins for 12 mins:

    • 1 Squat snatch + 3 overhead squats @ 75% 1rm